Year in Review 2019 – Samantha Melrose

Not only are we reaching end of an incredible year but we’re also at the end of an epic decade. At the risk of sounding cliche, I want to start this piece by saying 2019 has truly been incredible and truly ground breaking for country music here in the UK. The genre is going from strength to strength and it’s so incredible to see so many UK artists excelling and also so many US artists coming here to tour! 

I can’t write this article without mentioning C2C, the biggest country music festival here in the UK. The lineup was incredible with artists like Cam, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban and Ashley McBryde to name a few, but the festival also introduced me to the incredible Abby Anderson, Ingrid Andress, Catherine McGrath, Caroline Jones – the list is endless. Every year C2C brings thousands of country fans together from all over the world and getting to see so many acts in one weekend can never be a bad thing! 

I also attended The Long Road festival for the first time this year which although far smaller was equalled in atmosphere. The layout was fantastic and again I got to see Thompson Square, Lainey Wilson (by far one of my favourite acts coming out of 2019), Rhiannon Giddens – again far too many to list but festivals are one of the best ways to see a tonne of artists across varying sub genres so if you haven’t been to any yet, make 2020 the year of experiencing live music. 

A highlight for me had to be the return of the Queen of country Carrie Underwood for her Cry Pretty tour. She also bought us the rap contest for The Champion where I was introduced to the incredible Caitlin Mae as she joined Carrie on stage with more confidence than most, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for her. Carrie was of course also supported by The Shires who are so loved by the UK audience with their stunning harmonies and it was a pleasure to see them on a much bigger stage doing what they do best. 

This year I was also introduced Katy Hurt who I have now seen a few times this year. I stumbled upon her page through instagram but she’s someone that has worked so incredibly hard and the results are paying off. Her EP ‘Unfinished Business’ has done incredibly well and if you enjoy the odd gig or two I would highly recommend getting yourself to one of hers. There are so many UK artists that are causing a stir and making some incredible music. From Twinnie who’s really paving the way for women here in the UK to Ward Thomas, Máiréad to our very own Louise Parker, and Zoee, Amy Lawton, Jeannine Barry, Clara Bond, some incredible bands like The Wandering Hearts. There are simply too many to list, but this is a really exciting time for the genre here in the UK. Admittedly I hadn’t seen many UK country acts live before this year and I don’t know why, but I will be seeing more in 2020 that’s for sure.  

For Belles and Gals its been another stellar year. Firstly, I’d like to thank the team for taking me on, it’s been a time of growth and I’ve never met a bunch of more supportive people, both professionally and personally. We’ve seen a huge increase in traffic through our website with 6 months of record hits. We also signed up to the PRS keychange 50/50 pledge to help the industry reach equilibrium, we announced our premium promotion to support unsigned artists through new releases, a brand new Belles and Gals magazine, and possibly our biggest challenge to date, we also announced our ‘UK Country Music Spotlight Awards’ which will be in the early part of next year. So keep your eyes peeled for more of that to come. 

As a country fan there’s nothing better than being able to see the music you love, live on a monthly basis. Maybe I’ve been blind to it before or I’m possibly more aware of the scene than ever, but in my eyes this genre is growing strength to strength and 2019 has been pretty incredible. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store but here’s to the end of the decade, and the beginning of the country music take over. Don’t forget to support artists by buying singles, heading to gigs and doing what you can, when you can, it makes a huge difference! 

Here are some of my favourite tracks from this year;

  1. Crowded Table – The Highwomen
  2. The Bones – Maren Morris 
  3. Southbound – Carrie Underwood
  4. Just Friends – Caylee Hammack 
  5. Tequila Does – Miranda Lambert
  6. LA – Lainey Wilson 
  7. Good Lord – Abby Anderson
  8. Doin’ Fine – Lauren Alaina 
  9. Bra Off –RaeLynn
  10. Unfinished business – Katy Hurt
  11. I’m Moving to Nashville – Louise Parker 
  12. Out on the Road – Two Ways Home 
  13. Better When I’m Drunk – Twinnie 
  14. Boys Cry Too – Danny McMahon 
  15. Pink Wine – Clara Bond 
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